West Virginia Football: 1-2 in the Soft Big East and a Culture of Turnovers

Tim McGheeCorrespondent IIIOctober 30, 2010

West Virginia head football coach Bill Stewart
West Virginia head football coach Bill StewartAndy Lyons/Getty Images

It is utterly ridiculous.

West Virginia skill position players laid the ball down seven times Friday night at Connecticut. The Huskies jumped on four of them. Actually, three. Noel Devine lost one when a UConn defender simply took the ball out of the scatback's hands.

Mountaineer big man Ryan Clarke is super effective at tailback, that is until he coughs it up like my cats. Twice he did this, once during overtime on the 2-yard line, just a headbutt away from an extra inning and potentially decisive touchdown.

Clarke's penchant for giving like it's Christmas is no secret. He played whoopsies at LSU in West Virginia's red zone territory, setting up what turned out to be the Mountaineers losing touchdown.

The hands' malfunction goes back still further. Below I have included a link to an article I wrote October 2, 2009. I was inspired by the takeaways of Auburn at Auburn and Colorado in Morgantown.

Fortunately, West Virginia went 1-1 in that hot-potato stretch. 

That made a victory much more difficult against an 2009 Buffaloes team that was just not very good.

Hitting the highway to The Plains, Bill Stewart's team gave the ball away too many times and consequently gave up a chance for the head man's signature win, which of course is an upset on the road.

Please read the The Culture of Turnovers piece at your leisure. It's interesting because it's 13 months later and nothing has improved.

When WVU puts up three picks against Syracuse as the otherwise outstanding quarterback Geno Smith did, or when West Virginia's calamity crew puts the ball on the turf seven times, it is not the fault of the players.

The coaching staff must find some way to make it stop. 

One way is to concentrate on the positive, which are takeaways.  

Another way is to spend an excessive, but necessary amount of time working on the protect-the-ball skills of the ball handlers, like running the ball handlers through a gauntlet of eager big-handed defenders for an hour a day.

What I'm afraid of is Stewart's only preaching to the team, "Play Mountaineer football!" Whatever that is.

Well, that solution is working against this team. 

Right now, Mountaineer football is: turning the ball over, not closing the sale in the red zone, not setting up an offensive philosophy and sticking to it.

This in turn leads to: running a talented passing quarterback whom everyone knows was recruited to pass and dangerously exposing said passing quarterback with the unwise abuse of the spread option and the triple option. 

This is at lease the third consecutive article in which I have discussed Stewart's inability to say anything that is not a trite remark expressed as if it were original or even significant, which is the definition of "platitude" as found on page 1,067 in the Fourth Edition of The American Heritage College Dictionary. 

I have a great deal of respect for Connecticut head coach Randy Edsall. He has endured a nightmarish 13 months, beginning with the violent death of team leader Jasper Howard and continuing with the suspension of his idiot starting quarterback Cody Endreas for failing a drug test three times.

In spite of all that, West Virginia lost to a Connecticut team Friday night that has had its on-the-field football issues in a big way. 

With 18 returning starters, the quarterback problem resolved and a hard-hitting stalwart defense, WVU should have just lined up and won this game by three touchdowns.

As well, many Mountaineer fans know their 2010 edition should absolutely have a much better record than 5-3. Why not 8-0?

The blame and accountability rests squarely and solely on Stewart, whose troubles are multiplied by the solar seat on which he sits.